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The Dark Night of the Soul: Art Film, Bereavement and Unsatisfied Audience Responses

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Moving images are more and more in the centre of culture, providing individuals with stories by which reality is maintained and by which humans construct ordered micro-universes for themselves. There is a growing field of research evolving around the idea that culture and art could act as a catalyst for experiences of deeper meaning. In this article, a case study is described and analysed. A contemplative short art film was presented to a group of women as a possible asset for processing fundamental existential life issues. The women did not respond in line with expectations and their impressions of the short film were essentially negative, with expressions of impatience, irritation and even hostility towards the film’s appeal. Two problematic aspects of the film Night are outlined: (1) the meaning of the imagery used was too open and (2) as a piece of art, the film was not in tune with participants’ grieving processes.

Affiliations: 1: PhD, Associate Professor Religious Studies, Dalarna University, School of Humanities & Media, 79188 Falun, Sweden, tax@du.se

10.1163/21659214-00702001
/content/journals/10.1163/21659214-00702001
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/content/journals/10.1163/21659214-00702001
2018-08-14
2018-09-23

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